Leadership and Symbols


Person-centered leadership is about helping people get real at work. What you do does not usually have to be right the first time, but it always has to be real. When you remove posturing, pretension, and false communication, people are free to be themselves—to use their good ideas and energies to give themselves and their organization a lift.

The leadership is responsible for the atmosphere and morale in any organization. Executives and managers are not responsible for knowing the solutions to all the organization’s problems. That’s what the experts are for—and the experts are always the people who actually do the job for you on a daily basis. The most effective leaders are not the ones who know how to give good orders. Most effective leaders know that good communication is a two-way street and they are skillful at using symbols to convey truth. Every leader needs a metaphor that defines his leadership style.

The door is just a symbol of commitment to person-centered attitudes and actions. Symbols are exquisitely important, but they have to be your own symbols—a genuine extension of yourself. Just like all other aspects of this approach, the leadership symbols you choose have to be real

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Relationship Determination


Find out the strength of relationship between customer voices and technical requirements. Technical requirements are taken one by one and analyzed with each of customer voices by asking “By working on this technical requirement will it be possible to satisfy this voice of the customers.” The decisions are recorded in the center of the matrix using symbols: Triangle = Strong Relationship, Single Circle = Moderate Relationship, Square = Weak Relationship.

The relationship column is then reviewed to see if there are any customer requirements with no relationship symbols or only weak symbols.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Ethics and Leadership


There are several different types of leaders:

  1. Universal Leaders: Those who believe that ethics has no business in the workplace. Their decisions are not guided by ethical principles. They tend to operate out of personal and pragmatic motives with less concern for the altruistic or idealistic implications of their decisions. This does not mean that every decision is unethical, merely that the ethics of the decision is not considered when it is made.
  2. Ethical Leaders: Those who are personally ethical in word, thought, and deed and conduct their decision making openly so that they are perceived as ethical even from a distance. Not only do these leaders consider the ethical consequences of their decisions, in addition to the individualistic and pragmatic, but also it is obvious to the observer that this is the case. They make a point of ensuring that the ethical aspects of their decision-making process are as valuable and transparent as they are pragmatic. Additionally, ethical leaders are attentive to culture and symbol aspects of how they act out the “moral manager’s” role. They understand that their actions and decisions communicate symbolically as well as literally.
  3. Ethically Neutral Successful Leaders: Those who are personally ethical in word, thought, and deed, but are not open about it. These leaders may not be perceived as ethical from a distance. They are often viewed as not paying adequate attention to the ethical component of their decisions, not because the outcome is unethical, but rather because their decision-making process is not readily apparent.
  4. Hypocritical Leaders: Those who deliberately choose to act unethically.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Message Content in Marketing Communications


Message content deals with what is said in a message and how it is said. There are five common content topics that have great relevance for marketing practitioners: 1) fear appeals; 2) the use of humor; 3) the role of music; 4) sex appeals; and 5) subliminal messages. Advertisers, salespersons, public relations spokespersons, and other marketing communicators use all of these message styles to varying degrees in hopes of gaining attention, achieving impact, and ultimately producing sales.

Fear Appeals: Companies sometimes use fear appeals in attempting to motivate customers to action. The underlying logic when using fear appeals is that fear will stimulate audience involvement with a message and thereby promote acceptance of message arguments. The appeals may take the form of social disapproval or physical danger aside from the basic ethical issue of whether fear should be used at all, the fundamental issue for marketing communicators is determining how intense the fear presentation should be. Numerous fear-appeal studies have been performed by psychologists and marketing researchers, but the fact remains that there still is no consensus on the “optimum” level of fear. Some Neither extremely strong nor very weak fear appeals are maximally effective. It seems that appeals at a somewhat moderate level of fear are best.

Humor: Politicians, actors and actresses, after-dinner speakers, professors, and indeed all of us at one time or another use humor to create a desired reaction. Salespeople and advertisers also turn to humor in the hopes of achieving various communication objectives. Whether humor is effective and what kinds of humor are most successful are matters of some debate among marketing communications practitioners and scholars.

Despite the frequent use of humor in advertising, relatively little is known in a definitive scientific sense about its effects on customer behavior. However there are some generalizations:

  • Humorous messages attract attention.
  • Humor can inhibit consumers’ understanding of the intended meaning of a message.
  • Because humor is a pleasant form of distraction, it can produce an increase in persuasion by effectively “disarming” receivers’ natural selective perception and reducing their tendencies toward counter arguing with persuasive selling claims.
  • Humor tends to enhance source credibility, thereby improving the persuasive impact of an ad message.
  • A humorous context may increase liking for the source and create a positive mood, thereby enhancing the persuasive effect of the message.
  • To the extent that a humorous context functions as a positive reinforce, a persuasive communication placed in such a context may be more effective.
  • The effects of humor can differ due to differences in audience characteristics. Advertisers must use humor carefully since consumers display a variety of tastes in what is humorous and what is not.

Music: celebrated musicians, as well as, non-vocal accompaniment and unknown vocalists are used extensively in promoting everything. Music performs useful communication functions such as attracting attention, putting consumers in a positive mood, and making them more respective to message arguments. Although music’s role in marketing is an increasingly understand subject, a few recent studies have begun to demonstrate the roles that music performs. Music is an unconditional stimulus in an effort to influence experimental subjects’ preference.

Sex Appeals: Sex appeals in advertising are often explicit. The use of explicit sex was unthinkable just a few years ago, it now represents part of a new trend toward more sexually explicit advertising. Sexual explicitness is prevalent and overt in some countries. Whether such advertising is effective and under what conditions it may be effective remain largely unexplored issues. Complicating the matter is the fact that sex in advertising actually takes two forms: nudity and suggestiveness. It is uncertain which form is more effective. There are several potential roles. First, sexual material in advertising acts as an initial attentional lure and also holds attention for a longer period, given that the models are attractive or the scene is pleasant. This is called the “stopping power” role of sex. A second potential role is to enhance recall. Sexual content or symbolism will enhance recall only if it is appropriate to the product category and the creative advertising execution. Sexual appeals produce significantly better recall only if the advertising execution has an appropriate relationship with the advertised product. A third role performed by sexual content in advertising is to evoke emotional response such as feelings of attraction or even lust.

Subliminal Messages: the word subliminal refers to the presentation of stimuli at a rate or level that is below the conscious threshold of awareness. Stimuli that cannot be perceived by the conscious senses may nonetheless be perceived subconsciously. This possibility has generated considerable concern from advertising critics and has fostered much speculation from researchers.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

The Lacking Commitment


Why do so many senior people appear hesitant and half-hearted? Why are the communications concerning change programs so anemic, especially when coming from those who have little difficulty in putting their points across in other contexts?

We have to get at the roots of ambivalence. The reasons for concern, quiet dissent, and reluctance to commit need to be probed:

  • Apparent support may only mean that those concerned are crawlers, bootlickers and toadies. There is often reluctance to accept the reality that all manner of loathsome and self-serving creatures inhabit the corridors of corporate bureaucracy. Their wiles, and the games they play, which are so transparent to outsiders, and destructive of external relationships built upon mutual trust and respect, go unnoticed or are ignored within.
  • Those who appear difficult may be the individuals with intellectual reservations. These could relate to the application of a program in a particular area, or to an initiative as a whole. The objectors could be the ones who have thought it through and uncovered missing elements. An implementation process needs to incorporate a means of listening to, and learning from, those who have valid objections.
  • Also, not all customers have the same preferences. What is added value for one person may be regarded as an expensive luxury by other.

Bland ‘motherhood’ statements suggest people have not thought through what needs to be done. People judge by what they see rather than on the basis of what is said. The informal messages, the examples and the symbols, can undercut formal communications.

Too often the changes of attitudes that are sought are not reflected in the language used by managers, the anecdotes and war stories that make up the mythology of a company, in symbols such as the allocation of parking spaces or use of exercise facilities, and in how a myriad of day-to-day matters are handled. Changing structures and processes may not be followed by attitudes where managers themselves, and particularly senior managers, refuse to act as role models.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Understanding Culture


Culture is a shared system of symbols, beliefs, attitudes, values, expectations, and norms for behavior. All members of a culture have similar assumptions about how people should think, behave, and communicate, and they all tend to act on those assumptions in much the same way.

You belong to several cultures. The most obvious is the culture you share with all the people who live in your own country. You also belong to other cultural groups, including an ethnic group, a religious group, and perhaps a profession that has its own special language and customs.

Distinct groups that exist within a major culture are referred to as subcultures. Groups that might be considered subcultures in the US are Mexican Americans, Mormons, wrestling fans, Chinese Americans, and Harvard graduates.

By bridging cultural differences, you can successfully achieve intercultural communication, the process of sending and receiving messages between people of different cultures. When communicating with a person from another culture, you will be most effective if you can identify the differences between your cultures and accommodate those differences without expecting either the other party or yourself to give up your identity.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Advertisement as a Symbol Package


Advertisements should not be thought of as things apart from the needs of the advertiser. Hence the function-oriented term ‘marketing message’ to suggest the motivation behind the ads. But—there is more.

The effects (if any) that ads are going to have on people are by no means certain. One way of explaining this is by thinking of the finished advertisement as a “symbol package,” using words, pictures, sound, and so forth in an attempt to establish some shared meaning between the creator of the advertisement and those who receive it.

The primary task facing the TV creative man is how best to get at people’s feelings. How can he communicate convincingly with what psychologists call the third ear, with the levels of intuition far behind reason—where the scales of judgment are weighted by feeling and primitive perceptions. This is the “open sesame” to believability and persuasion. The intellectual elements—the facts and the arguments—are just a superstructure on the process (often the subconscious process) of achieving conviction. The creative mind in TV advertising has to work with both logical and non-rational symbols. This is, after all, what a product image is—the total set of attitudes, the halo of psychological meanings, the associations of feelings, the indelibly written aesthetic messages over and above the bare physical qualities.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Roles, Prestige, and Organization Value


A role is a part or a function performed by a person in a particular position or situation. With most roles that are associated certain expectations of behavior. For example, we expect anyone who is a company president to behave differently from a junior employee, or the foreman to behave differently from the workers, or the coach differently from the player. Thus, it is that if we know someone’s role (which is often indicated by his job title or assignment), we can make some reasonable predictions about some of his behavior, even though we do not know the person. If a particular person behaves differently than is generally expected of someone in his role, uneasy feelings, often negative, frequently result.

 In a given organization, various roles have to be performed, and each of them is likely to carry a certain prestige, the amount of which will depend on the importance of that role to the achievement of goals and on preconceived expectations of the role. For example, we expect the role of president to be more important that that of general manager, and more prestige is accorded to the president. The roles and prestige of individuals and groups are useful to note because they help influence behavior and interrelationships in significant ways. Think how role expectations might affect a general manager as he deals with the president, a shop foreman, a worker, and his secretary. If you think his behavior might differ, why do you think so?

 You can predict rather easily the prestige accorded certain individuals and groups and the roles they perform. Think for a moment how both things and space serve as status symbols in a business organization. Observation of such symbols help indentify the relative value assigned both individuals and groups.

 By noting the resources, things, and space allocated to work groups and people, and the nature and conditions of their work, and by considering these factors in the context of the total organization, we can often get good understandings of both their relative status in the organization and some of the factors influencing them. In addition, such observations indicating something about the values of the organization. By noticing the quantity and quality of various facilities and people, and by observing the things and help high-status people have (and low status people do and do not have), you can make reasonable deductions about the values of the organization. For example, you can tell something about the college that has a large new library and no stadium as compared with one that has a large stadium and a small library.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight